Director's Note

Every year, the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) makes remarkable contributions to the understanding, detection, treatment and prevention of cancer.

Director's Note

Portrait of Tom Misteli, Ph.D.

In a recent conversation I had, CCR was referred to as “a place that changes lives.” The statement could be taken as a mere cliché – but these words are true. All we need to do is watch Travis, seen on the cover, play happily while enrolled in a trial in the NIH Clinical Center for his neurofibromatosis type 1.  We make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families. Through our research, we provide cutting-edge treatment, passionate care – and hope.

While our patients’ well-being is the most evident sign of our impact, our clinical successes are built on groundbreaking, innovative laboratory research that identifies new molecular, diagnostic and therapeutic targets and inspires novel treatment strategies. Our basic research program is an engine for new knowledge that drives the development of novel clinical approaches.

This year’s issue of Milestones once again captures the remarkable quality and spectrum of our work in the basic and clinical sciences. In the past year, CCR investigators elucidated a fundamental genetic mechanism in cancer using baker’s yeast; characterized the molecular mechanisms of cancer stem cells; gained insights into how a tumor in one location in the body can prepare a far-flung site for metastasis; and developed novel and improved immunotherapy approaches, to mention just a few of the accomplishments described in this issue.

These advances are made possible by the creativity of the investigators, their fellows and students; the expert compassionate care by our nurses and clinical staff; and the support of our administrative personnel. They occur because of the vibrant intellectual environment and unmatched intellectual freedom created by the stable funding model of the NIH intramural program.

Each one of the CCR contributions in this issue of Milestones, and the many others not featured here, move us along the path towards preventing cancer and making the disease more manageable by developing effective treatments. Our journey continues, and with each scientific milestone we reach, we create an opportunity to make even more of a difference to many. The CCR, indeed, is a place that changes lives – and we are all proud to be part of it!

Tom Misteli